Mathieu Turcotte takes silver medal at short track speed skating World Cup

Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., earned Canada’s best World Cup short track speed skating result so far this season on Friday with a silver medal in the men’s 1,500 metres to open the second stop on the circuit.

Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea with a powerful final lap won the gold medal in 2:19.783 while Turcotte, who scooted into second spot with four laps to go, followed in 2:20.117. Ho Suk-Lee of South Korea was third in 2:20.364. The two other Canadian entries were also in the final with Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., fourth in 2:20.414 and Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal fifth in 2:21.570.

“Having three Canadians in the final was an advantage for us,” said Turcotte, a double medallist at the 2002 Olympics. “Charles and Jonathan were well placed to keep others from moving up when I got into second place. I was definitely going for the win but Ahn showed great acceleration on the last lap and I couldn’t catch him.”

For the World Cups, Canada is icing its Olympic team for the Winter Games this February. The team was determined last month at selection trials. Turcotte and his teammate are now working towards peak condition for the November World Cups in Europe which will determine the eight countries that compete at the Games.

“Physically I’m starting to feel much better after some heavy training,” said Turcotte. “I was able to recuperate a lot faster today. In terms of explosiveness and strength we’re where we want to be at this point in the season but certainly not at our peak. I think our training plan is going to give us a big advantage when we get to Europe.”

In the women’s 1,500 final, Yang Yang of China was the winner in 2:22.933, Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria second in 2:23.097 and Sun-Yu Jin of South Korea third in 2:23.795.

Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., was the top Canadian reaching the semifinal for seventh overall. Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal were eliminated in the first round and ranked 20th and 47th respectively.

Canada won both its relay hearts to advance to the semifinals.

In the men’s 5,000 relay, Canada clocked 7:04.230 with Hamelin, Guilmette, Francois-Louis Tremblay of Montreal and Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que.

In the women’s 3,000 relay, the Canadians clocked 4:21.014 with Vicent, Leblanc-Boucher, Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., and Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que.

Competition continues Saturday with the men’s and women’s 500 and the relay semifinals.